Kingsway Regional School District stands out as one of the best in terms of opportunities for education in leadership and free-thinking attitudes. As Dragons, students are given the chance to lead and create clubs, speak openly with administration, and voice their opinions through various self-created accounts and publications.
The capacity for student advocacy also exists on the state-level. This year, two Kingsway students, Jude Palazzo (7th grade) and Dillon Dukes (10th grade) were elected to fill positions on the executive board of New Jersey Association of Student Councils (NJASC). In the last 10 years, only three other Kingsway students have served terms on the board.
The NJASC prevails as the oldest student leadership organization in the United States. Founded in 1927, the network set a precedent for the potential of greatness for leadership training across the nation.
The board selected Palazzo as a middle-level representative, one of only three across the entire state of New Jersey. In his virtual campaign speech, he chose to begin with a song that he felt represented himself, or more specifically, his name.
By beginning with a creative parody of “Hey Jude” by The Beatles, Palazzo went on to express the similarities between himself and the famous British rock band. “Just as The Beatles work hard for every song, I am willing to bring that same work ethic to the board. I do everything that is asked of me, and I do it to the best of my ability,” explained Palazzo.
Jude will be the first Kingsway Middle School Student to ever serve on the NJASC executive board.
The middle school student council has become more involved in state-wide leadership since they acquired a new faculty moderator a few years ago and were inspired by high school students who filled positions on the state board. Prior to the election of Palazzo and Dukes, Madison Lavender (senior) previously served as an executive member of NJASC in 2020.
“I also wanted to say that I couldn’t do this without help from Dillon Dukes, Maddie Lavender, and all of the administration in our district,” Palazzo disclosed.
Similar to Jude Palazzo, Dillon Duke’s campaign speech also took voters by storm. In a well-spoken ode to everything a president should be, Dukes remained humble and poised.
“A President is much like a superhero. They step in at the perfect time and save the day as they fully understand that they are contributing to something greater than themselves,” he maintained.
He continued with the superhero theme by ending the speech with a catchy one-liner: “don’t be villain, vote for Dillon”.
The NJASC outlines two key issues that the board seeks to address. School safety and diversity/inclusion have become the major focal points of the executive board.
“I plan to first identify and learn about the current problems New Jersey is facing when it comes to these two focused issues and then, methodically come up with solutions alongside my peers on the executive board to ensure it is implemented with success,” Dukes resolved.
Dukes believes strongly in the need for student unity. He genuinely values the opinions of those around him and plans to take his talents and those of his peers at Kingsway to the next level with NJASC.
“I want to make sure every single student in New Jersey knows that I will give my absolute 100 percent to represent and serve them to benefit their lives as students,” he concluded.
Between Jude Palazzo as middle school representative and Dillon Dukes as president, Kingsway is well represented on the New Jersey Association of Student Councils. Their elections demonstrate a true testament to the incredible values and intrinsic motivation instilled in them by their school community.
By Audrey Pachuta